By The Rev. Thomas Nibbe
How about a little bit of humor…A man called up a lawyer and said, “How much would you charge to answer three questions?” The lawyer said, “…four hundred dollars…” The man said, “…that’s a lot of money, isn’t it? The lawyer said, “I guess so…So what’s your third question?” Mark Twain used to say: “…by trying we can easily learn to endure adversity, that is—that ofanother person…” W.C.Fields is quoted as saying, “…if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again…and then quit…” Priscilla and I just got back after rescuing our beloved new dog, Cooper, in Las Vegas. We didn’t gamble. A friend sometime back hit it big in Vegas. He drove there in an $8,000.00 car and he returned home in a $95,000.00 bus. THE WAY IT USED TO BE: “Violators will be Prosecuted” (now it is) Prosecuters will be Violated”…Robert Orben said, “Life was a lot simpler when what we honored was father and mother rather than all the major credit cards.”
Grace and peace to us from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!
Week by week we continue to live in an atmosphere around the globe of crisis, tragedy, and uncertainty for the present and the future. What a great resource this whole business is of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is to meet the challenge of each passing day and week!
[I would like to humbly request that —as you read through the message for today— you would remember to make some personal comments on the text by going (on-line) to: pacificalocalnews.com … and click onto PACIFICA LIVING…scroll down to the response box under the message. Your e-mail address will be held confidenial. Thank you..]
Please note the following Scriptures that provide purpose for the message today:
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (What faith is…)
“He has shown you, O Man, what is good—And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to lovemercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 (What religion is… What ethical behavior is…)
“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. That person will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name so that the Sonmay bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” John 14:12-14
“…they claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him…” Titus 1:16 Are we praying with a mindset of faith?
“…the feeblest among them will be like David and house of David will be like God, like the Angel of the Lord going before them.” Zechariah 11:8 — Do we know how empowered we are by God to live out our lives?
“…for a person is a slave to whatever has mastered him or her…” 2 Peter 2:19 — Are you bound by the your issues?
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us..and if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15
Would you pray with me? “God, today I will forthrightly ask you for what I want and what I need. Now, Lord…I’m not going to demand of you — I will respectfully ask. I’m not focused upon incredible wealth nor upon expensive toys to entertain myself. I am really focused in on my essential wants and needs, especially those to benefit others near and dear to me—then, Lord, I will let go. I will trust in your Word. In faith, I will pray once only. Or, in faith, I will pray constantly whenever I think of what it is I want or need. In the process, I ask for that which will make me a more effective servant of yours and a more useful citizen of your eternal kingdom. Boldly, I pray confidently, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Today I will boldly proclaim the Gospel of God in Christ Jesus…without condition. I will encourage you to bring any request you have to the Lord. I want you to understand that no request is too large. There is no request that is too small. There is no request that is insignificant to the Lord. He just loves to hear us call upon His name. He loves to hear from us when we are in need. He is waiting to hear from us. He is waiting to prove He is worthy of our trust, where other resources are unable to fully guarantee.
I remember a woman in great need, a lady who recently had come to the Lord…with a rather insistent personality — tell me, “God is not listening…I’m hurting!” I replied, “May I ask, how did you make your request?” She said, “I want what I want, and I want it now!!!” I went on to assure her that God would fulfill her desire within His perfect timing. I suggested that sometimes God comes through for us immediately. At other times, it’s done in a way that things needed…fall in place together. His timing is always perfect.
I remember, years ago, a financial prayer request of a lady in my neighborhood. Shortly after that prayer, an unexpected gentleman drove up in a Jaguar automobile, came into my office, laid that same amount of money she had prayed for, into my hands. He felt called by the Lord to give the money away. The man did so…and she received that large amount of money within the half-hour. Years later she moved out of town. After many years I heard from her just this last week. She has remained strong in the Lord…never quite able to forget the extraordinary way God had ministered to her need.
Another lady who I had known as a teenager, got involved in a drug habit, and through the years was severely addicted for decades. A year ago a good-looking lady in her forties came up to me in the presence of Priscilla, my wife, and gave me a big kiss on the cheek. She said, “Pastor, do you remember me?” I replied, after a moment’s pause looking into her face, “Well…No. I don’t…” She said, “I’m so-and-so…You have prayed for me for thirty years…when everybody else gave up on me…you still prayed on…that the Lord would preserve me and save me from my addiction. And so, here I am, free of drugs for three years, and in addition, I have turned my life over to Jesus!” Sometimes the Lord fulfills a prayer request immediately. Other prayers are answered much later.
God always listens to our prayers. God always answers prayers. Reverend Martin, the old Southern Baptist preacher, from my days in Alabama, used to say, “God always answer prayer — It’s like sometime He say—Yes. — Sometime—He just say, No. Sometime, He say, Maybe — and sometime, He say, Later.”
The old hymn goes as follows: “What a friend we have in Jesus, all of our sins and griefs to bear, what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. O, what needs we often forfeit; O, what needless pain we bear…All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer…”
We forfeit a great deal of personal victory in our life when we don’t exercise our mindset of faith. We experience a great deal of personal pain — totally unnecesary pain — when we don’t put a merciful, purposeful God in the midst of our suffering. We forfeit a great deal of peace by not trusting in God. Recently a dear friend was suffering overwhelming pain in the hospital. While I was visiting, he cried out to me, “Pastor, help me with this killing pain of mine!” I opening my mouth without thinking and the Holy Spirit filled it with His grace, “As a follower of Jesus, when you suffer, you share with Him – His suffering -for the redemption of the world…” My friend paused. Within a half-hour he was asleep…
“How often we think we need to limit God…supposing we will be disappointed and lose confidence in Him if we boldly reach out, stretching ourselves way beyond the ordinary, allowing the Lord to fulfill His promise to us personally, through the words of Jesus in John 14:12-14. I keep thinking to myself, what if God does things like He does…only if my human conduct was perfect and without blemish. There would be little point in being a follower of Jesus…no assurance of heaven…no answers to life-and-death issues…no confidence to live our lives with a multitude of earthly assurances along the way.
Once again, mere “do-and-don’t” religion and human doubt bounce back into the divine place of faith. Faith is not about what we deserve. It’s not about the so-called limitations of what we can accomplish as human beings alone. It is about, what we call in theological circles, the manifestation of God’s undeserved grace and His ability to make any and all things requested happen. Trust me, no perfect people are going to heaven…
Do you need help getting your balance in life? Do you need help getting through this very day? Do you need help in a particular set of relationships or a special relationship?How about that particular character defect? How about attaining a personal brand of character that will inspire others who are struggling with their own sense of self-worth.
Do you need help making progress on a project challenging you? Do you need help in dealing with negative feelings? Do you want to change a self-defeating personal conviction that has been challenging you? Do you want wisdom or insight? Do you need support? Maybe it is (sometimes we don’t realize) this…Is it that you need a friend who is worthy of your trust…someone to share the significant things of life with…Is there something that would really bring you much needed joy and personal peace?
In the faith we have in Christ Jesus we can ask for it — and if it is really something we want and need — we will receive it. Make up your mind (John 14:12-14)…Jesus is either telling the truth or He is lying. I made up my mind twenty-five years ago that Jesus was telling the truth. Doors were opened to me in ministry and my life that were sealed shut before. I have been criticized for this conviction. Other ordained clergy have actually addressed me by saying, “…bad things just happen…you can’t do anything about it…”Either Jesus Christ was telling the truth, or He was lying. I have made up my mind…Jesus was telling the truth. It was good for the time He had said it. It is good for today.
Turn your life anew into God’s hands. Put your request in God’s hands. Trust that you have been heard. After that, let it go in faith. Leave the decision in God’s hands.This is the way to care for your innermost being. Have the renewed assurance that God in Christ Jesus really does care for you. He loves to hear you when you call upon His name. He deeply cares that we, through faith in Him receive what we want and need.